“Be Careful”

Sparkle
Sparkle & R. Kelly
Sparkle, 1998

So … I saw R. Kelly in concert three weeks ago. That was a real thing that happened, to me, in the Year of Our Lord, 2014. It was … it was okay. He did that weird outdated hip-hop thing where it’s just him and a DJ, and no song gets more than one verse or chorus. And while that was annoying, it served as a nice reminder that Kelly’s back catalogue is deep not only with hits, but simply good songs — hundreds in fact, many of them strong enough to stand alongside his massive hits in concert. Setting aside the controversy that has trailed him everywhere since the start of his career, there’s no denying the man’s singing or songwriting ability. “Be Careful,” a duet with former protégé Sparkle, is one such example from 1998, all but forgotten now. The opening half of a domestic dialogue continued on Kelly album track “When a Woman’s Fed Up,” “Be Careful” is packed with enough narrative detail to feel like more than just a song; there are enough grace notes here to make the story believable. In today’s bone-dry radio-R&B landscape, this is a nice reminder of the genre at its finest. Sad, relevant post-script: Sparkle testified against Kelly during his 2009 criminal trial alleging he appeared in a videotape with her-then 14-year-old niece engaging in sexual acts. As you probably know, Kelly was acquitted.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/04%20Be%20Careful.mp3]

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